Close encounters of the digital kind
Just thought I'd share an interesting encounter the other day. I apologize for this being off-topic, and have no interest in starting another digital versus film argument here. Just wanted to share a good story.
I was down at Pemaquid Point (Maine coast) a couple weeks ago, with my 4X5 rig doing some shots of Pemaquid Light and surrounding rock/beach/sea scenes. A guy with a very British accent came up to me and said, "Could I ask you a terribly impertinent, although obvious question? Why on earth are you still using that contraption instead of a digital camera?"
My reply was "The better question might be, ' Why on earth would I be using digital?' "
He was quite taken aback, and a lively conversation ensued. Like most amateurs who have been swept away in the digital rush, his switch from film to pixels was motivated by about equal parts of ease and marketing hype. For him, the sheer convenience of being able to effect changes in the image with mouse clicks in Photoshop was the central concern.
By the time the conversation ended, he may not have been convinced, but he was at least educated in such matters as 1)the issues surrounding longevity and accessibility of digital images and storage media, 2)the satisfaction taken in the craft of photography itself (why would I just give up and discard all the knowledge it has taken me 35 years of practice to acquire,?), and 3) the inherent superiority of the silver image in resolution and depth of even the best digital images yet available. Not to mention the fact that for some of us, sitting at a computer does not feed our souls the way a good darkroom session does or provide the thrill of seeing that upside-down image on our ground glass under the dark cloth.
He had intelligent questions, he raised pertinent issues that made me think, and altogether provided a delightful interlude on a beautiful early spring afternoon up here Downeast. I wish all my digital vs. film encounters were so productive and enjoyable.
I hope you let him look through your ground glass.
I was out shooting with a fellow camera club member a couple of months ago and he was trying out his new Minolta digital SLR and I was shooting my 8x10. He was buzzing around taking shots and at some point, asked if I had taken any yet. I hadn't, but was almost ready to. To make a long story short, I asked him if he'd like to look at the scene through the ground glass. He did and said something like, "Neat!" or "Cool!" I forget which. I showed him the effect on the picture of shifting and tilting and he was impressed. In my club, I'm the one who shoots either using a strange size format or a strange type of film (IR). In fact, there aren't many left who still shoot film in our small and informal club.
The way I see it, this guy completely wasted your time. You're not converted, he's not converted and you missed some good light while preaching to the non-convertible. These enncounters will only increase in frequency so you (we) need to nip those in the bud and press on in our purpose. (As I get older, my patience is getting thinner and thinner. Can you tell?).
Originally Posted by Daniel Grenier
Actually, he was converted, sort of. By the end of the conversation, he admitted that he had never thought of "real photography's" superiority as a historical record, or of the issues relating to storage and future accessibility of digital images, and he recognized these as valid concerns. But since he never was, by his own admission, more than the average snap-shooter (pretty sunsets, etc.) kind of photographer and had no real personal interest in pursuing it as a serious craft, it really wasn't the usual "I've got my position, you've got yours," sort of conversation. It was a teaching moment, and those are always worthwhile in my book, whether I'm the teacher or the pupil in this encounter.
I've done this on other occasions with similar results.
Originally Posted by colrehogan
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
I don't think such a conversation is a waste of time if it's carried out in a civilised and friendly manner. You're always going to meet people with different opinions that you may not neccesarily change but it's always worth giving them something to mull over. Of course, they will be trying to do the same to you.
Originally Posted by Daniel Grenier
I have had similar conversations when i've gone out with my Holga and It's good to talk with people of similar interests, even if their method is not to my taste. I certainly don't begrudge them a chat if I miss a shot. I would be more concerned with coming across as a 'film snob', an attitude which will do the analogue movement no favours.
Originally Posted by Maine-iac
I had a similar conversation about 3 weeks ago in the Sydney botanic gardens.
I was spending a lot of time setting up a shot involving my 21 month old child. Setting up involves getting exposure readings involving a light meter, setting up the camera on the tripod, removing the dark slide, all the things you have to do to get a perfect portrait shot.
I eventually got a real good shot and a passer buy asked why I didn't get modern and use a digital camera. In response I pulled out my Fuji S7000 6MP digicam and took a photo of him and his kids. To say he was surprised when I pulled out a modern digicam when I was shooting old old cams would be an understatement.
I simply told him that I would have my print for generations, while his digiprint will be forgotten in 10 years. I've emailed him the 6MP shot I took.
Attached is a proof of the shot I spent ages setting up. It needs colour correction for a final print, but it is certainly better than any the point and shoot digishot.
This happens to me fairly often as well. Whenever I'm out with my Crown Graphic and large wooden tripod people usually comment on how large it is and how it must be laborious to haul it around.
More often than not it becomes a wonderful discussion of how impractical these cameras are to use, but also how quality is superior, and how the experience is such that it is more enjoyable, from the moment the camera is set up until the finished print is ready.
People understand afterwards why I want to use a big bulky camera, and usually it throws them a curve ball and makes them think about their own approach a little bit. I doubt I will be converting many, but it's interesting to discuss all the same. It builds mutual respect between digi-shooters and film photographers, and an understanding to why film is a very valid option still.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
Why is it that when my fellow countrymen leave these sceptred isles they suddenly insist on talking like a cross between Cary Grant and Hugh Grant transported back to 1947???
Could I ask you a terribly impertinent, although obvious question?
Why on earth are you still using that contraption instead of a digital camera?
I beg your indulgence and please allow me to inform the persons herewith assembled that such modes of speech are not customary in today's thrusting 21st century Britannia...
In modern native english this would be "Oi! Mate! Wossat fing all abaht then? Yoo wanna get yerself wunna them digi'al phone camras pal!"
Originally Posted by Maine-iac
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.